The Australian Energy Regulator has published annual reports on the performance and compliance of the retail energy market.
The performance report outlines energy retailers’ performance in 2014-15 in such areas as customer service, complaints, payment assistance to customers in financial difficulty and customers disconnected for not paying energy bills.
“Fewer customers owe energy debts compared with previous years and more of those customers are getting assistance through a hardship program. Retailer assistance, combined with lower electricity bills in most states, explains why electricity disconnections have steadied and even declined in some places,” AER Chair Paula Conboy said.
However, gas disconnections are increasing in New South Wales, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory in 2014-15. Gas bills decreased in Victoria and the ACT but increased in NSW, Queensland and SA.
“If customers are struggling to pay their bills – electricity or gas – they should contact their energy retailer early and ask for help to avoid being disconnected,” Ms Conboy said.
“There can be big differences between energy offers and some households could be paying hundreds of dollars more than their neighbours. Our Energy Made Easy website is a simple, independent and free tool to help consumers compare all electricity and gas deals in their area. It also contains helpful information on choosing an energy offer and your rights as a consumer,” Ms Conboy said.
The AER has also released its annual compliance report for 2014-15. In this period, the AER took court action for breaches of the explicit informed consent obligations and issued infringement notices for breaches of life support and hardship customer obligations.